City of Cleveland tears down crumbling house after neighbor begged Mayor Bibb for help

Sonny Williams spray painted “Mayor Bibb please please please tear this house down” on the vacant house next door to his Kinsman home
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 10:17 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It took about five years but Sonny Williams stood smiling on Tuesday as he looked over at the now torn-down house beside his home on Kinsman Rd. in Cleveland’s Union-Miles Park neighborhood.

“I always said I wanted to see this down before I die,” Williams told 19 News. “I’m happy. When they put the dirt and grass in, me and my dog Smokey will walk all over the place. He can chase the cats.”

He had gotten so fed up over the years that he spray-painted a message across the front of the building directed at Mayor Justin Bibb.

“Mayor Bibb please please please tear this house down,” he wrote.

According to public property records, the house has changed hands seven times over the last ten years, often swooped up by out-of-state investors.

County records indicate the house was sold just days later for pennies on the dollar.

In March, a city spokesperson told 19 News the house was condemned by the city’s building and housing department in April of 2022.

The new owner, according to the city spokesperson, obtained permits to either fix or demolish the building, which effectively put the city’s demolition plans on hold.

However, on February 24 of this year, the permits were voided and the law department gave the okay for demolition.

“I’m happy they’re following through with the demolition,” said Ward 4 City Councilwoman Deborah Gray. “It’s going to make the neighborhood look better.”

Gray said city council continues to discuss ways to address the vacant home problem throughout the city. In some cases, legal action has been taken, but Gray told 19 News it’s important to connect with property owners, to build a rapport with them.

“This is huge for me and my colleagues. At the end of the day, we want to develop a safe, beautiful neighborhood for all our constituents,” she said.

As the politicians do their thing, Williams can’t help but to smile as he looks out over that property.

“I love it. It took one can of black spray paint. That’s funny.”